Author Topic: Where to live  (Read 4548 times)

Xanthian

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Where to live
« on: December 11, 2012, 11:19:20 PM »
Hello,

I have an enviable choice that is overwhelming me, and it is where to live.  I work from home and am allowed to live pretty much anywhere in the continental US.  My wife is a stay at home mom and we have three young children all 4 and under.  Part of the problem is that we currently live in San Diego and like it here.  The weather is nice, people are friendly for the most part, and there are things to do.  We own a home worth a bit over $550k which was purchased in 2010 and we owe $370k on a 15 year mortgage.  Our housing expense in a month is typically more than all of our other expenses combined.

We are tempted to move because we can get so much more in terms of housing for less money in areas outside the job centers.  I figure other cost of living items are probably a wash.  We only drive a few thousand miles a year and both cars are around 10 years old and seem to be running well.  We plan on sending the kids to public schools.

Everyone I talk to about this seems to bring up that the reason I'm thinking about moving must be taxes, but, In terms of taxes, I don't feel we pay all that much in Federal and State taxes in California, despite a $100k salary.  After exempting the three kids, the child tax credits, maxing the 401k, the mortgage and property tax deductions, our federal and state tax bills do not seem all that bad to me.  I am fearful of property taxes so would probably like to avoid high property tax regions.  If I bought a $500k house in Texas, I think I'd be paying around $10k-$15k in taxes per year, which is about double what I will pay in California for my taxes combined.  I'm just looking for the best balance between bang for buck and a happy family.

The areas I am thinking of are Reno/Sparks because it is pretty affordable and my parents spend a lot of their time there.  So it would be nice to have the grandparents nearby to keep the kids busy sometimes.  Miami area because that is where my Wife's family is, but neither of us particularly care for Miami; it isn't all that cheap, along with the high property taxes and insurance costs.  Temecula, CA is high on our list as it is relatively inexpensive.  Though in Temecula I would be tempted to buy an estate type home on acreage which would cost a bit more than what my current house is worth.  My parents did say they might move in with us and live in a guest house if we do that, which I would like.  The Denver area has always seemed interesting to my wife and I; though, I've never been there.  And, of course, there is always inaction and stay put.

Any ideas, advice, or what you would do in my shoes? Should I move and try and find cheaper housing, or live in this house until the kids move out?  Thanks in advance.

lhamo

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Re: Where to live
« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2012, 03:40:38 AM »
From what I have heard from people who live there, quality of life in San Diego is pretty high.  I wouldn't really see the advantage of moving somewhere more remote (where other expenses may be higher and where you would be tied to cars) if you were going to keep such high housing costs.  So that would put the "estate" idea out of consideration for me.  If you don't like Miami I wouldn't move there, either.  And other than thinking it might be good, doesn't seem to be anything drawing you to Denver.  So why not look more closely at Reno/Sparks.  How much would it cost you to buy a suitable (not extravagent) house in that area?  And how much extra cash would that give you after the sale of your current house?  If it was enough to buy a house mortgage-free, how would that affect your living expenses/ability to save? 

For me it really sounds like a quality of life issue.  Could you rent out your house in SD for awhile and try living in Reno to see how you like it?  You'd probably need a property rental company to manage it given the distance, but if you could cover your mortgage it would be one way of trying out another place without losing what you have in SD until you know you are ready to give it up.


DoubleDown

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Re: Where to live
« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2012, 08:38:41 AM »
10 Best Places to Live according to Sperling's (cost not a factor). I will attest that #1 on the list, Charlottesville, VA is great. Surprising to me at least, Reno came out at #9. :

http://www.bestplaces.net/docs/studies/bestplaces05.aspx

Money Magazine Best Places to Live (cost IS a factor):

http://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/best-places/2012/snapshots/PL1810342.html?iid=spl100

You already know you could buy the identical house that you have in San Diego for 1/3 or 1/2 the price in many other large cities in the US. You mentioned buying a house for $500k in TX. That would get you an obscenely huge house in almost any part of that state. I, for one, would opt for buying a modest home wherever you move and pocketing the remaining equity, rather than sinking the same amount of money into a larger house (or "estate") elsewhere.

NestEggChick (formerly PFgal)

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Re: Where to live
« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2012, 08:49:37 AM »
Try looking at http://www.findyourspot.com/
Whether or not you use their list, I think it could give you some great criteria to consider.  Do you prefer cities or more rural areas?  Does political climate matter?  Things like that can make a huge difference in quality of life.  Hopefully it'll give you some new ideas.

Good luck!

James

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Re: Where to live
« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2012, 08:51:16 AM »
I would live close to what you want to DO.  Do you enjoy any specific activities?  Sports?  A certain kind of weather?

Regarding location, my two top spots for where we are hoping to move are Asheville NC and Boulder Colorado.  Both are locations I want to be because of what I can do there, and have a weather climate I want to be in.

AlexK

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Re: Where to live
« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2012, 09:17:29 AM »
I live in Sparks and love it. I have lived in other places like Albuquerque NM, Lafayette IN, Toledo OH, So Cal, Portland OR and none of them compare to Reno in terms of outdoor activities and weather.

It's not perfect though. We have a lot of uneducated drug-culture types, high unemployment, and high property crime (only my perception).

The Reno housing market has recently seen 20%+ appreciation on cheap houses over the last year but that was coming off of an extreme drop from the peak. So an $80k house now costs $110k (was $250k in 2006).

Jamesqf

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Re: Where to live
« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2012, 10:26:59 AM »
First, tell us what you want.  What do you like to do for fun?  E.g. if you like surfing, Reno's not going to be high on your list.  Do you want to live in a house (of whatever size) on a small (sub)urban lot, or do you want acreage?  Reno's not much good for that, either, unless you either have megabucks or a liking for sagebrush.

Xanthian

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Re: Where to live
« Reply #7 on: December 12, 2012, 04:35:44 PM »
Thank you everyone for the replies.

I'm not a surfer and I rarely visit the beach.  Most of my free time for the past couple of years has been taken up by my kids.  We go on a lot of walks, whether in the hills, the neighborhood, or city.  Otherwise, the things that you can do anywhere that little kids like to do outside (kick a soccer ball, play catch, etc...), weather permitting.  My wife likes to paint and garden.

I prefer semi-arid / desert climates.

Acreage would be great as long as long as we can grow things on it.  So in the desert, I wouldn't want to go over 1/2 an acre.

Political climate doesn't matter much to me as long as it isn't too extreme in either direction.

I think a suitable house (tract home on a decent lot) in Reno/Sparks would probably cost us in the $200k - $300k range.  Temecula probably in the $300k- $400k range.  Those would be larger and newer than our current house.

As for the "estate" type houses, I think I'm just dreaming for those.  For some reason the idea of having a family compound is alluring.

Again, thank you everyone for the responses, I have a lot to think about.